Income Support Policies
10th, April 2013
The world today is characterized by various inequalities, including social and economic inequalities. All these inequalities have existed since the past decades, and their main root source could be traced to the unequal distribution of resources in society. A number of people in the society might afford a comfortable life, while others might not afford even basic needs. Therefore, different countries have developed strategies to deal with this phenomenon. Most countries, which are economically stable, have implemented programmes meant to provide financial support to the financially underprivileged. In the United States of America, being an economically stable country, there exist different types of programmes, which aim at supporting poor families that are in need. Such programmes mainly lower the level of homelessness and protects the poor from starvation. Financial underprivilege is unpleasant and that is why the government has developed different welfare programmes. People who fit in the description of ‘needy’ in the country are always eligible and encouraged to apply for such funds. Therefore, the various income support policies in society aim at improving the living standards of the needy in society.
In the United States, there are various income support programmes, which are developed by the government to support the needy. These include the social security fund, the supplemental security income (SSI), and the temporary assistance for needy families (TANF). These are aimed to serve specific people in society, meaning that not everyone in the country qualifies for these income support programmes. This essay focuses on the social security and the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) income support policies in the United States. Particular interest of this essay is also driven to the different positions of conservative politicians and liberal politicians on these income support policies.
A larger number of most Americans are beneficiaries of social security. This is beneficial to both the old citizens after retirement, as well as other citizens, who might become disabled or experience death of their family breadwinner. The target population of social security is therefore, those people, who are employed, or with a stable source of income. On the other hand, the source of funding in social security is the social security taxes, which employees have to pay. According to the US Social Security Administration (2013), today, 161 million working Americans pay the social security taxes, while 57 million are beneficiaries of the monthly benefits of Social Security. In the U.S.A., the beneficiaries of social security are mainly the retirees. The outcome of social security therefore, is realized when an employee retires, and when one becomes disabled. However, the family and dependents of a deceased employee will be the beneficiaries of the employee’s social security. Although social security improves one’s financial position, the US Social Security Administration (2013) warns that an employee after retirement has to supplement the financial benefits from this programme with personal savings, private pensions, and investments, among other means, since social security is not self-sustaining. Nonetheless, social security aims at improving the lives of Americans after retirement, while most are in old age.
The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) is an income support policy by the government, which aims at helping the needy in the country. This temporal support to poor families is in form of monthly financial assistance for the families. Eligibility is allowed for minor children, their siblings, and relatives living with them, expectant women in their final three months of pregnancy, with no other children, who are beneficiaries of this programme, and refugees, who have minor children (Department of Health and Human Services, 2011). Apart from these, there are other financial and non-financial factors, which are considered in order for one to qualify for this assistance. The source of funding is mainly from the federal government, meaning beneficiaries of this fund do not have to contribute their money directly to the fund, as in the case of social security. This programme is temporary, therefore, lasts for a specific period, after which a person ceases to be a beneficiary. Nonetheless, the expected outcome of this programme is that beneficiaries will be able to sustain themselves using the financial assistance to pay rent, and buy food for their families (Department of Health and Human Services, 2011).
The views of Liberals and Conservatives on income support policies are different. However, a common factor between these two is that, both admonish poverty, therefore, agree that income support policies are necessary in society (Starr, 1995). However, these disagree on a few factors. For instance, liberals are known to be supportive of equal opportunities for all people, compared to equal social conditions. Therefore, Liberals will highly support income support policies, because these help the elderly, the disabled, and children, who are not capable of self-support, therefore, providing them an opportunity like other people. On the other hand, although the conservatives do not support poverty in society, just like Liberals, these have many reservations about income support policies. This is unlike the Liberals, who show the least reservations about these programmes. Conservatives believe that when people are offered financial assistance, this corrupts their mind, and they might think of it as a right, and not a privilege. Therefore, while Liberals consider these programmes as a source of equal opportunities and equality for people, conservatives view them as resulting into unruly and lazy citizens, thus bearing a negative impact on the economy of a country. Nonetheless, despite their various positions, income support programmes remain among the most appropriate ways of promoting social justice, equality, and opportunity for all.
Starr, P. (1995). Liberalism, Conservatism, and the Intellectuals. Retrieved from
US Department of Public Health and Human Services. (2011). Temporary Assistance for Needy
Families (TANF): (Basic Eligibility for TANF Cash Assistance). Retrieved from http://www.dphhs.mt.gov/hcsd/tanf/tanfeligibility.shtml
US Social Security Administration. (2013). Social Security: Understanding the Benefits.
Retrieved from http://www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/media/pdf/EN-05-10024.pdf
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